Farming Seafood.

first_imgIt’s OK with Downer, though. He already has most of them sold long before harvest. Mostof them, he said, will wind up on dinner plates in Webster County.Burtle said the key question for any farmer interested in growing freshwater shrimp isthe amount of shrimp they can produce. “Can you move from selling it to local freshmarkets,” he said, “and sell it wholesale?” He doesn’t know the future offreshwater shrimp farming in Georgia. But Burtle expects high interest in the appealingenterprise over the next few years. John Downer looks over his first “crop” of freshwater shrimp. Photo: Joe Courson Hundreds of miles from any coastline, John Downer is trying to make sure shrimp loversget all they want. The Webster County farmer is growing shrimp in fresh water in hishomemade tanks in southwest Georgia. “It should take between 160 and 170 days,”Downer said, looking forward to his first shrimp harvest.Growing freshwater shrimp has caused a new wave of interest as farmers look forsomething they can grow to make a profit. It looks simple enough from an equipment pointof view. But University of Georgia expert Gary Burtle tells farmers it takes a new way ofthinking.”You have to be a management-minded producer to get above-average yields,”said Burtle, an Extension Service aquaculture scientist with the UGA College ofAgricultural and Environmental Sciences. Production Promise May Be UnrealisticBurtle has been interested in growing shrimp for the past 20 years. Now, he has hisfirst shrimp-growing demonstration at the National Environmentally Sound ProductionAgriculture Lab in Tifton, Ga.The freshwater shrimp industry has been hyped with big promises of as much as 1,500pounds of shrimp per acre, Burtle said. But he tells farmers not to believe theadvertisements. His research shows Georgia farmers are more apt to make about 600 pounds.”Prices range from $7 to $10 per pound at the pond bank for live, large shrimp,”he said.Consumer acceptance of freshwater shrimp could be a determining factor, along withconsistent production at the farm, in deciding whether farmers make money growing shrimp.”Freshwater shrimp are very similar when they’re fresh — that is, to fresh saltwatershrimp,” Burtle said.Shrimp Farmers Must Be MarketersFarmers getting into the fresh shrimp business must keep in mind that most shrimp comefrom Latin America and Asia. American producers compete on the world market. Burtle saidfarmers have to do more than just grow the shrimp. They have to market what they grow, andthey have to promote freshwater shrimp. And many farmers don’t feel comfortable doingthat.center_img They look like their ocean kin, and experts say farm-raised freshwater shrimp taste like them, too. Photo: Joe Coursonlast_img

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